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The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon - Alouette - Review

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 The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon “Alouette” was written by the team of David Zabel and Jason Richman (who also worked on Stumptown and Detroit 1-8-7 with Zabel) and was directed by Daniel Percival. I’m still enjoying this more than any of the other spinoffs, and that might be because I liked Zabel’s previous shows (Stumptown and Detroit 1-8-7 too). This episode, like the first did feel a bit derivative – Lord of the Flies anyone? Or possibly that original Star Trek episode with the creepy kids? Of course, the kids in this story aren’t of the creepy variety…

A large part of the story is taken up with Isabelle’s (Clémence Poésy) backstory. Apparently, she was quite the party girl and thief before finding God. We get some lovely shots of Paris and the Eiffel Tower at night. And then it begins. I think this was perhaps the best depiction of the walkers starting in huge city. Isabelle is saved by Quinn (Adam Nagaitis) who shows up in the nick of time with his car. She insists on going home before they leave Paris. She’s there to get her sister Lily (Faustine Koziel), who tells her that she doesn’t feel well. Isabelle has cash and valuable stashed in her chimney, which she takes. She abandons a neighborhood child, Aimée (Naïa Pichler) to her fate, telling her to go to her mother.

In the present. Isabelle refuses to follow the Priest’s plan to go to Paris – too many memories? Laurent (Louis Puech Scigliuzzi) continues to be a bit odd and creepy. He asks Daryl (Norman Reedus) what kind of death he would prefer – but, of course, Daryl is nonplussed, telling him “how about a quiet one?” When their mule, Asterix, refuses to keep going and starts braying, Daryl wants to know how to make him shut up – but that’s not going to happen. Daryl unharnesses him and shoots his gun to make Asterix run through the walkers. Sylvie (Laïka Blanc-Francard) and Isabelle reassure Laurent that Asterix will have simply gone to the apple orchard. Daryl insists that they should tell him the truth as he has to learn sometime. Isabelle points out that Daryl doesn’t have kids – it can wait. Of course, WE know that Daryl is fantastic with kids…

They hear whistling and are then under fire. Daryl is lured into a trap – by a bunch of kids. Really? He seems to have lost his edge… but plots must, I guess. The kids have gotten their abandoned wagon and brought it to where they live – a pre-school! It’s super Lord of the Flies as the kids pound their spears and howl. Their leader – Lou (Kim Higelin) – has Isabelle and Sylvie recite a prayer to prove they are nuns. Turns out they are all catholic. Isabelle tells her that Daryl is Father Daryl – sent on a mission from America long ago. She’s skeptical that he still can’t speak French, and it’s hilarious that they lean on the old cliché of Americans refusing to speak anything other than English – all Isabelle does is reiterate that Daryl is American. 

They survive by hunting, growing food, and mending old clothes. They also keep up their lessons. Their teacher has been sick for 6 months – but they still believe that their prayers will be answered and she will get better. 

When Laurent sits down at dinner, one of the kids tells him he can’t sit there because its his brother’s place and his brother is off on a mission. Then they ask Daryl to say grace. His blessing is naturally very unorthodox, but exactly what you’d imagine Daryl would say to God. He says He likely has his reasons for turning the whole world upside down, and they likely deserve it for being so mean to each other, but not tonight – because tonight is good and if tonight isn’t good enough for Him, he doesn’t know what is. Sylvie is very impressed by their manners. Madame Dubois says that their manners are a mirror that shows their portrait – and then Daryl picks up his bowl and drinks loudly, slurping. ALL the kids stare at him – and then do the same.

After dinner, they tell Daryl, Isabelle, and Sylvie about a “monster” living in the castle who has horses that he used to plunder the entire village. They tried a raid to get supplies, but it’s too dangerous to go again. Daryl tells them that if they want to save their teacher, he has all the medicine. 

Meanwhile, they’ve set up bikes to power a television and they are watching Mork and Mindy – which Daryl is thrilled about – and the kids can recite word for word. There’s a great shot of Daryl as the camera pulls in tight to his face – he’s clearly troubled. 

Daryl and Isabelle share a bed. He’s clearly troubled that he lied to Lou about the medicine and justifies it to Isabelle, by saying that they need the horse because it’s too far to walk to the radio. Isabelle tells him that she feels sorry for the kids because they don’t know what it was like “before.” Daryl points out that you can’t miss what you never had. Daryl tells her that he and Merle used to watch Mork and Mindy together – it made things just a little better. Isabelle tells him she understands that sometimes you just need to escape – which is a perfect segue back to her escaping from Paris. 

Quinn, Lily, and Isabelle have stopped at a gas station. Lily again says she feels sick and throws up. Apparently, Isabelle didn’t know she was pregnant. Quinn is adamant that they can’t take her with them, so Isabelle picks his pocket for the car keys and drives off with Lily while he’s making calls. 

Lou tells Daryl that it’s obvious that he’s not a Priest. She asks how he got there, and I’m beginning to think we’ll never get the full story because he just says it’s a long story. He tells her all that matters is that he gets home to his people. She picks up that he doesn’t say family. 

Back at the school, Laurent isn’t having much luck fitting in. He sucks at hide and seek – the intimation is that the nuns always let him win. When the others run off to go hunting, Laurent wanders off by himself. Isabelle is pleased he’s making friends. The two are looking after Madame DuBois. We learn that Sylvie and Laurent have mysterious histories. Isabelle promises when they get North, they will all learn their purpose. 

Lily and the baby are in distress. Isabelle pulls over when she she’s paramedics by the side of the road. Of course, there are a bunch of walkers. Lily forgets how car doors work – and of course she is bitten – though we don’t find out until later. 

Laurent finds Asterix half eaten. Isabelle and Sylvie go after him. He’s angry that she lied to him – and he’s taken off Asterix’s bridle.

Daryl and Lou arrive at the castle. The moat is full of walkers – quite brilliant really.

In the past, Isabelle and Lily arrive at the Convent. The Mother Superior, a young Sylvie and the Priest take them in. The Priest tends to Lily’s arm where she was bitten. Lily is pretty clearly in labour, even though she’s only about 7 months pregnant. The two sing Alouette as that’s what their mother sang to calm them down. Lily insists Isabelle promises to take care of her baby – and of course Isabelle does. 

Daryl and Lou search a tool shed, and find a tool that Daryl can use in order to repel in over the moat. He locks Lou in the tool shed to protect her. Daryl finds huge stockpiles of supplies, including lots of medicine. Daryl here’s shouting and finds Herrison (Milo Mazé) – one of the missing kids. They hear shots, and Daryl goes to investigate.

Daryl finds Gaines (Ned Dennehy) shooting out the window. he disarms him Gaines is thrilled to have been found by a fellow American – he’s from Texas – of course. Gaines almost echoes Daryl – we’re all just sticking it out until we can get back to the ones we love. Daryl tells Herrison to take Gaines to Lou to decide what to do with him. Daryl tells Gaines that everyone back home has been gone for a long time – there’s nothing left to go back to. 

As they cross the moat, one of the wheels on the cart busts. Gaines keeps taunting Daryl and sneaks up to grab his gun – the two fight and fall into the moat – or rather Daryl falls in and Gaines is left hanging – like a luncheon pinata. We get some nice knife action from Daryl, and then he shoots and blows up some of the gas canisters that had fallen off the bridge. Miraculously, walkers in front of him and behind him are blown to bits, but he’s ok. He’s not out of the woods, however, and it’s only because Lou, Moof, and Herrison are there with arrows and a horse to pull him up that he gets out. Lou asks him if he’s still better by himself. Then they see Moof’s (Durel Nkounkou Loumouamou) missing brother – he’s one of the walkers in the moat.

As they arrive back in triumph, Sylvie comes out to say that Madame DuBois has died. Daryl confesses to Lou that the meds were never going to help her and that he lied to get a horse. Lou worries about what they will do now, and Daryl tells her that they will just keep doing what they have been doing. The kids look up to her. Daryl tries to spare Lou and offers to take care of Madame DuBois, but Lou insists that she owes it to her to do it. Laurent comforts Hibou (Victoria Comte), telling her that his teacher is also with the angels. The kids all chant Nanoo-Nanoo – hilarious. Laurent doesn’t want to leave his friends, but obeys Sylvie, though he insists on walking.

Back at the Convent, Codron (Romain Levi) walks through the corpses of his soldiers. Only bloodstains are left of the nuns. Naturally, he also finds Daryl’s tape recording. He also finds baby pictures of Laurent and the map of where they are going.

Lily dies in childbirth and reanimates before they can get the baby out – so they tie her down while the Priest does a c-section. Meanwhile in the present, Isabelle tells Laurent not to act like a baby. She also tells him that he’s not like other kids – he’s special. 

     Daryl gets down to walk with him, telling him that nobody ever called him special as a kid. Laurent insists that he doesn’t want to be special. Meanwhile, Lily’s baby is born alive. So is this a total ripoff of The Last Of Us?? Will Laurent be the baby who is immune? Isabelle walks away from her dead sister with the baby and finds a statue of St Laurent – in case we still weren’t sure who the baby was…

There were definitely shades of Lord of the Flies here – but then the show really rather cleverly turned them on their head. Higelin is fantastic in the episode as Lou, and I’m sorry she was just a one off “on the road” character.  I also really liked the humor in this episode, especially playing on the ‘ugly American tourist’ stereotype with Gaines. The Mork and Mindy infusion was brilliant, and I loved how it really touched Daryl and we get the mention of Merle. Any episode in which Dixon gets to interact with kids is always going to be a winner too – and he doesn’t disappoint here. His grace is shocking, but also underscores the respect he has for children as sentient human beings. It also begs us to ask, is there childhood really any worse than Daryl’s was – again underscored by his remarks to Laurent at the end of the episode. Great work here from Poésy filling in at least some of Isabelle’s very complicated history. What did you think of the episode? Let me know in the comments below!

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